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How companies endanger customer data

There are many aspects to customer experience (CX) related to online: the ease of navigation and signing up, mobile compatibility, interaction with the support team etc etc.. And all of them are necessary to nail down to provide the best CX possible and get a competitive edge.

However, there’s an expectation that the increasing number of clients have but few companies notice: data privacy and security. Why is it so important? Why do many businesses ignore it? And why should they not? Let’s find out...

Modern business practices and data privacy

Today, it’s hard to find a company with an internet presence that doesn’t collect any information about its clients.

Even people who are not logged in on a specific website are not safe from this. Their IP addresses are still visible to the website and analytical cookies still monitor their behavior. Some websites allow turning them off but many do not. This is to say nothing about analytical services that run on most commercial sites and are a separate tracking entity.

Moreover, some businesses choose to make additional money off of their customers by selling their data to third parties. There exists an entire market for such information as it can be used for a variety of purposes: ad targeting, email listings, etc.

Yet another argument some customers use against their data being collected and stored in excessive amounts is security. Even a company that adheres to rather high-data privacy standards and does not sell its clients’ sensitive information to third parties can endanger this data.

It can happen if a data breach occurs. Then users’ information including their addresses, banking, medical, and other information can end up in the hands of criminals. With large companies, the number of leaked records can reach hundreds of millions and even billions.

The information illegally obtained in a data breach can be used for identity theft, extortion, and discrimination. While it’s illegal, there is a possibility of an insurance agency obtaining health data in bulk and making decisions based on it. The same goes for employers.

What privacy awareness growth means to businesses

Customers are well aware of this state of affairs.

It is undeniable that customers’ awareness about the privacy of their data grows as does their concerns for it. In 2018, for example, 66% of US-based consumers spoke in favor of the implementation of a set of regulations aimed at the protection of their data similar to the European GDPR.

The rise of the de-googlers

The prominence of such shady practices is already causing a certain upheaval. Google’s less-than-stellar record on this matter has spawned an entire online movement dedicated to getting rid of Google services. Most “de-googlers” cite concerns about their privacy and data collection as the primary reason for quitting.

Absence of competition

However, while Google and Amazon can probably take this hit thanks to their sheer size, a smaller business with a similar attitude to its customers’ privacy may face a far greater comeuppance. Another thing the web giants have that most companies do not is, largely speaking, the absence of meaningful competition. Without Amazon Web Services, for example, using the internet is a very lackluster experience.

Privacy vs. convenience

Here is the dilemma most users face. They have to choose between privacy and convenience because seemingly, they cannot have both at the same time. But it does not have to stay this way and it will not.

Businesses today need to take certain things into consideration. As soon as a privacy-minded customer finds a service that promises (and, more importantly, keeps this promise) not to collect their most sensitive data to perform its basic functions, it will become a benchmark for them against which they will judge other businesses.

With at least one good example of it, they will expect other companies to uphold similarly high standards – and be disappointed if it turns out not to be the case, thereby ruining their experience.

This is what makes privacy so important right now for ensuring a positive customer experience. But how can it be achieved?

Making customer data privacy part of CX

The awareness about data privacy and security will very likely continue to grow. With nearly daily news coverage of new data breaches and data selling scandals, more people are bound to notice the problem and question whether or not they really need a parking app that knows where they live and work and can relay this information to undisclosed “third parties.”

This means that businesses have to take their customers’ data security and privacy to heart.

Here’s how they can achieve it...

Give customers an option not to enter any sensitive data

Unless absolutely necessary. Being on an email list and similar things should always be opt-in, not opt-out when signing up with a service.

Firm up your privacy policy

This is a very important factor in granting clients the best experience possible. It should be concise and easy to understand because nothing ruins user’s expectations of their data privacy being taken seriously as twenty screens of almost purposefully overcomplicated language full of terms most people will be seeing there for the first time in their lives and sentences that never seem to end.

Keep your privacy policy up to date

A privacy policy should also be accurate and updated at once when it is required. Even if something the company practices is not exactly privacy-friendly, it is unacceptable to hide or disguise it from both legal and moral standpoints. Whatever trust a company has built with its users is invariably destroyed if such a lie comes to the light.

Don’t sell data to third parties

To effectively bring customer experience in terms of data privacy and security to another level, it is necessary to forego selling data to third parties. It is simply unethical because no one but the executives of those entities has a realistic idea of how secure data is with them. Therefore, to sell customers’ information to them is to put it at risk.

Give your customers control

This is arguably the most important thing about making data privacy a part of CX is arguably giving the customers control over their data collected and stored by the company. It means that they must have the ability to delete all the information about themselves that they want as soon as they request it. Moreover, the deletion must be full and permanent.

The upside to caring about privacy

A high level of one’s data security with a definite company can and should be used as a USP. It should be marketed and advertised by presenting and emphasizing the company’s transparency on what and how it collects and stores about its users. When people see that there is nothing to be worried about in terms of data privacy, they will flock to that company because that’s the experience they crave:

Being at ease about their private information.

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